Last December, we had ten third grade girls come to a slumber party for my daughter’s ninth birthday. Several friends, including parents of the guests, deemed me certifiable. Depending on your tolerance for squealing, upside down slices of pizza on your carpet, or Taylor Swift, you might agree.
I did, however, have a plan for slumber party self-preservation in place. Let me assure you that nothing alcoholic was included in said plan until all the children were safely back into the custody of their own parents. I am a responsible, albeit nutty, adult, after all. All bets were off, though, the minute the last tire crunched up my driveway. But that’s another story.
Today, I’m sharing a few things I did to make sure the house was still standing at the end of the slumber party maintain some semblance of control. I’m also adding some affiliate links for some of the products I used and found helpful. If you click on one and make a purchase, I could make a small commission. I wouldn’t steer you wrong, I promise. Should you go down this treacherous party path, you might want to take some of these ideas into consideration.
1. Invite kids that you’ve had over before for individual play-dates.
If you are bringing a whole herd of kids in your house for a slumber party, it helps if you’ve schooled them on your house rules beforehand. When groups of kids get together, it’s likely that they will test your limits. If they know your expectations, it’s easier to reiterate them to the whole group rather than pull aside individuals. It’s awkward to have to scrape a kid you don’t well off your ceiling during a big shindig.
2. Start the slumber party with a get-to-know-you game.
This is critical. You may have groups of girls who haven’t met before. You want everyone to get along because drama and tears at three in the morning will put you off this slumber party thing for life. You may also have kids for whom this is their first time sleeping over at a house outside of those in their family circles.
Here’s what I did. My daughter had an emoji party. I got a stuffed poop emoji pillow as part of the décor. I had all the kids sit on the floor in the circle. We passed the pillow around from girl to girl and played several games. One was a memory game where each girl had to say her name and tell us which school she went to. Each of the girls then took turns trying to remember and recite what all the other girls said. I then had them pass the pillow around and share interests, hobbies, etc. Once we got around the circle, I called out two girls’ names. Each girl would have to try and remember what the other girl’s hobbies were. By the end of this little series of games, everyone was talking.
3. Fill them up.
Food is a big deal at slumber parties, but it’s okay to keep it simple. Pizzas, hot dogs, hamburgers, and/or chicken nuggets are safe foods that most kids will eat. When parents RSVP, ask them about their kids’ food preferences and allergies so you can plan accordingly. If you find that one of your guests has a severe allergy, request an Epi-Pen and ask the parent to train you to use it properly.
In our case, we chose pizza. Once we were finished with the initial games, I fed them dinner. Hungry kids are not hangry kids. Everyone is more compliant with a full belly, right?
4. Plan games and crafts to keep them busy until everyone calms down.
The last thing you want when you have a herd of kids in your house is an initial free-for-all. I learned that the hard way. When our last two guests arrived, the other girls were already running around and so overwhelmingly loud that the newcomers clung to their parents. I didn’t blame them. I sort of wanted to cling to them too and ask them take me with them.
Once I got everyone engrossed in a craft, the mood chilled out dramatically. All I did was buy small wooden disks, some cheap acrylic paint, brushes, and ribbon. The girls painted an emoji face of their choice on their disk, glued on ribbon, and had a pretty cute tree ornament.
Another idea I considered was to give each guest a Ping-Pong ball or a practice golf ball with a hole cut on an end. Each child would then have used a permanent marker to decorate their ball like an emoji. White ones worked fine because you then give the kids a battery-powered tea light. They can carefully insert the “flame” through the hole in the ball so that it glows when they turn it on.
I usually have a craft at parties in lieu of bags of favors. These candies and little goodies usually end up dropped between the car seats on the way home anyway.
By the time the craft was done, it was time for presents. We then had cake. Unfortunately, only an hour and a half had passed. I had a mini panic attack, but the kids began playing together, singing random songs, and dancing. They had all bonded during the activities so they were ready to enjoy the rest of the slumber party on their own.
5. Get in the middle of them.
This is a great opportunity for you to formulate a relationship with your child’s friends. It may not seem like such a big deal to let a bunch of nine-year-olds do your hair and paint your nails, especially if you’re the dad, but you are setting a strong foundation for the teen years. Teenagers alone with wifi at someone’s house can be a recipe for disaster. Teenagers and some silly adult with wifi equates to stupid cat videos and Pinterest fails.
Try to be tolerant as well. Carpets can be cleaned. Spills can be mopped up. But your daughter will never forget the time when her little friend would scream, “Andy’s coming!” at the top of her lungs, signaling all the other girls to fall down like dolls. You won’t forget the time your child and her friends collected four go-potty dolls and tried to make them all pee in the guest bathroom sink at the same time. True stories, both of them. I will never unhear or unsee either incident. I hope I never do.
As the parent of two growing children and two grown children, all this noise will be gone from my house all too quickly. I’m going to enjoy it—freaky baby dolls, squealing girls, paint splatters, pizza stains, and all. Good luck. I hope you’re as crazy as I am.
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